We learned today that the Progressive Conservative Party in Ontario is committed to expanding public funding of faith based schools [Faith-based school funding hailed by some]. According to the announcement by PC leader John Tory, the party would move rapidly to initiate funding of Christian, Muslim, and Hebrew schools.
John Tory, leader of the PCs, announced yesterday that former PC premier Bill Davis will look at ways to commit public money to faith-based schools if Tory becomes premier after the Oct. 10 vote.Ontario has two publicly funded school systems; a public school system and a separate school system. The "separate" schools are Roman Catholic schools. The "public" schools were originally Protestant but they evolved to become secular and open to students of all religions. The two school system was inherited from the time when Quebec and Ontario joined to form a single country (1867). The deal was that the Roman Catholic schools in Quebec would be funded and this was extended to cover students in Ontario.
The 53,000 students who attend schools outside the public and Catholic school systems deserve funding in the interest of fairness, Tory said. The funding for faith-based schools is part of his party platform.
Davis is to make recommendations and pilot programs could begin next fall. One of Davis's last acts as premier was to extend funding past Grade 10 for the province's Roman Catholic schools.
Up until now, I have not been an advocate for change because the separate school system is not much different than the public school system in spite of the fact that it is Roman Catholic. However, it has always been difficult to resist funding other religious schools because we are already giving public money to the Roman Catholic schools.
Now that this is about to become a major election issue I've decided to take a more active position in advocating the abolition of the Roman Catholic School boards and the amalgamation of all students into a single school system. If you feel the same way then I urge you to support the One School System Network (OSSN). Many of the members of this groups also belong to the Center for Inquiry (CFI).
Here's part of the OSSN vision statement.
The organizations represented by the One School System Network [OSSN] are united in the conviction that:If the status quo isn't possible then in my opinion we have no choice but to terminate funding of Roman Catholic schools. The latest pools show that 58% of Ontario residents want a single school system. Let's give it to them.
Ontario's publicly funded school system brings students of all backgrounds together in an environment that fosters mutual respect and understanding while respecting their fundamental equality and helping them to realize their full potential as citizens.
To realize that vision, OSSN seeks the establishment of a single secular school system for each official language, namely English and French public school boards.
Furthermore, OSSN seeks the elimination of costly duplication in the Ontario school system in order to minimize infrastructure costs and to maximize the opportunities for student development.
Publicly funded schools in Ontario shall not discriminate on the basis of religion in any form including: school environment, enrollment of students, opportunities for all students, evaluation of students, employment and advancement of teachers and all other school board personnel, adherence to Ministry of Education curriculum guidelines including courses in World and Comparative Religion.